If you’re a fan of gangster movies or one of the 13,762 crime dramas currently airing on network television, you’ve likely seen the “silencer,” that magical cylinder screwed onto the end of a gun barrel to change the boom boom to a pew pew. But “silencer” is a misnomer. The correct term is suppressor, because it never really silences a weapon, it just reduces the noise.
And though suppressors are illegal for the civilian market, they gave me an idea. It’s not the first idea I’ve written about, but it’s probably the best. And it actually works, too.
Here’s the scenario: You’re a ricer with a penchant for 4” muffler tips and FWD speed. You meet a beautiful woman browsing the action section at Hollywood Video Blockbuster Redbox, you strike up a conversation about Die Hard V, and you ask her on a date. Perfect. But you can’t take her out in your ’91 EF hatch, because while her strong, young back won’t mind the lowered-to-bump-stops suspension, the exhaust makes everything sound like a P-51 Mustang is chasing you out of the CVS parking lot. You actually like this cacophony but, she might care to have a conversation while you two drive to Sonic. (If you’re already married, substitute scenario with “picking up grandma from Bridge Club.)
The obvious solution is to get a “silencer,” one of those disproportionate plates with a 1” exhaust hole that you can stick into the end of your muffler. But this will restrict your flow, which could strangle your horsepower and your gas mileage. It’s not ideal for long trips.
I had one such cheap silencer in the just-as-cheap aftermarket exhaust that came on my WRX. I actually liked the sound, and left it in for a while, until I started to hear an odd wheezing noise, as if an asthmatic troll had sleepwalked from his Reddit thread under his bridge and into my no-name 4” muffler.
Pulling off the silencer plate, I found the remains of the inner muffler clogging up the port. From the fiberglass rat’s nest and a pile of rusted metal crumbs I deduced that the muffler’s perforated inner core had rotted away, leaving the stuffing to fall wherever it would. I remembered to put on my gloves before clearing the wreckage, then went to prep the stock exhaust that had come with the car – surely the non-muffled muffler would be too loud for my refined tastes.
For kicks I started it up, though, and a beautiful, a low, baritone rumble sang out, rather like a large Harley engine without the annoying, percussive blatting. I left it on. But after a few weeks, the daily highway miles started to wear on me, and I noticed an interior drone around 3,200 RPM, often my cruising speed.
So I went to the grocery store.
I bought a 4” can of peach halves, a 3” can of refried beans (which I needed anyway), and a bag of steel wool. Out of one end of the peach can I cut a hole, I made an “iris-type” spring at the other, and stuffed in a layer of steel wool. Then I cut both ends from the bean can and perforated it. (I recommend doing this in reverse order. Punching holes in something with no structural integrity is tricky.) This formed my new core.
I had to cut a few millimeters from the width of the peach can, but when everything was screwed together, I had a prototype for a modular exhaust suppressor that would fit perfectly into my exhaust tip and would muffle sound, but would not restrict flow to more than a marginal degree.
And somehow, miraculously, by the grace of God and the help of all His angels, it worked. My exhaust still blew out a satisfying, manly thunder, but it was functionally muted, and the interior drone was eliminated.
I called it: The Fart Can.
This was by no means the final draft of my creation. In fact, one of my 2013 resolutions is to learn to weld, so I plan to use actual exhaust materials to build a new one. Which is good, because the old one rusted to filth in a matter of months.
Yeah, it was pretty ghetto, but it was also just a prototype. Version 2.0 will feature a dedicated spring that will rest against the end of the muffler’s chamber plate. A shaped notch in the exhaust tip and a pair of tips on the sides of the Fart Can will allow me to push it into place, twist, and leave it. And since it’s sure to get sooty, I can make a PVC storage canister to keep in my car for the times when I want to hear that exhaust roar.
It’s a cheap solution to the ever awesome dump pipes that high-end tuners weld onto muscle cars. And though it’s probably already been done, I can see exhaust and muffler builders like Flowmaster, Dynomax, and Magnaflow actually marketing something like this.
The idea’s for sale, muffler guys. Have your people call my people. Or just me. That’s fine, too.
Andy Sheehan is a blogger, aspiring novelist, and relentless hoon. He plans to will his 2002 Subaru WRX Wagon to his firstborn, plans his daily commute around the swoop of its roads, and doesn’t plan to ever buy an automatic. A cool-car omnipath, he loves the common Mustang or Chevelle, but hunts for the weird and wonderful Velorexes and Cosmos of the autoverse. And when he can afford a garage, he’s going to turn an MX-5 into a race car.